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Archive for November, 2009

Google ‘Design & Content Guidelines’: Part 5

Monday, November 30th, 2009

This installment of our series on Google’s ‘Design and Content Guidelines’ focuses on the importance of using text with images, so that Google’s search engine bot can easily find and index your web pages.

Google Design and Content Guideline #5: “Try to use text instead of images to display important names, content, or links. The Google crawler doesn’t recognize text contained in images. If you must use images for textual content, consider using the “ALT” attribute to include a few words of descriptive text.”

The first part of guideline 5 is pretty straightforward – use text on your web pages as much as possible!  Although images are always more visually appealing for the visitor than text, search bots cannot process images, nor can they process text within images.  Using text ensures that your web pages will be found.

If you need to use an image on a web page in lieu of text, you can place an ALT attribute along with the image.  For a visitor, an ALT attribute will appear as a description of the image if it does not load.  For a search bot, it will provide a textual description of the image that allows it to be found by a search engine.

ALT attributes are written in HTML or XHTML and specify what should be on the web page if the image or item does not load.  When loading a web page with pictures, you will often see text descriptions appear briefly, before the images load.  These are the ALT attributes for those images.

Not all images on your website need ALT attributes, but the most important images should have them.  When writing an ALT attribute, keep the description clear and brief, loading it down with keywords is not necessary and can appear as spam to search engines.

In addition to helping search engines and visitors, ALT attributes also help to make content accessible to visually impaired visitors to your website.  

Now you know a little bit more about the importance of text and ALT attributes.  These tips are just another way to ensure that your web pages are found and understood.

Writing Web Words Inc:
Based in Toronto, Ontario, we are a full service Web Writing and Content Development Company that helps small and mid-sized companies maximize their online potential via Search Engine Optimization (SEO), SEO Copywriting, Social Media Marketing and other leading edge interactive marketing services.

Google ‘Design & Content Guidelines’: Part 4

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

When we last discussed Google’s ‘Design and Content Guidelines,‘ we looked at the importance of information-rich content on your website.  This week, we’ll be discussing the importance of keywords.

Google Design and Content Guideline #4: “Think about the words users would type to find your pages, and make sure that your site actually includes those words within it.”

This guideline refers to On-Page SEO, or SEO writing.  SEO, as we learned earlier, refers to search engine optimization, a process that enhances a websites chance of being found and ranked by search engines.

The backbone of On-Page SEO, or SEO writing, is ‘writing with keywords.’

Web writing is different than print writing because it is focused on structuring information so that it is easy to find and easy to read online.  Shorter and simpler sentences, focused language, and the effective use of keywords are the most basic ways to implement On-Page SEO techniques.

As we learned in the first part of this blog series, search bots are like pacman; they follow links and pages, digesting relevant information about your web pages in order to index and rank them.  Keywords are another tool that allow search engines to find your web pages and to determine relevance.

For the best results, choose and use keywords that clearly describe the subject of your website, as well as synonyms that visitors might also use to find your website.  For example, a website about training for a half-marathon would have keywords such as training, half-marathon, running, half-marathon training, etc.

Google’s Keyword Suggestion Tool allows you to choose keywords based on popularity and relevance.  It is widely used by web professionals and helpful for generating keyword ideas.  Like most Google applications, it’s free.

Stay tuned for next week’s installment of Google’s Design and Content Guidelines, in which we look at guideline #5!

Writing Web Words Inc:
Based in Toronto, Ontario, we are a full service Web Writing and Content Development Company that helps small and mid-sized companies maximize their online potential via Search Engine Optimization (SEO), SEO Copywriting, Social Media Marketing and other leading edge interactive marketing services.

Google ‘Design & Content Guidelines’: Part 3

Sunday, November 22nd, 2009

When we last discussed Google’s ‘Design and Content Guidelines,’ we looked at the role that sitemaps play on your website.  This week, we’re going to be talking about the importance of an information-rich website with well-written content.

Google Design and Content Guideline #3: “Create a useful, information-rich site, and write pages that clearly and accurately describe your content.”

Creating a website with high-quality, useful and original content is one of the best ways to garner traffic and rank well in search engines. A useful website informs, is easy to use, and gives your visitor’s a reason to take the next logical step.

No other method (a clean hierarchy, sitemap, or keywords) will be as effective as a well-written, information-rich website – the backbone of any long term SEO Strategy.

A unique and information-rich website that is frequently updated also ensures return visitors and links from other webmasters, resulting in more organic (natural) traffic and higher search engine rankings.

Writing web pages that clearly and accurately describes your content is essential in order for both visitors and search engines to find you online.  It is a skill that anyone serious about Search Engine Optimization (SEO) needs to know.

When writing web page content, keep these tips in mind:
•    Keywords: If your website is about knitting, the word knitting should appear in your content.  As well, keywords related to knitting (synonyms) should also appear throughout your site.
•    Paragraphs: Short and well-organized paragraphs that cleanly layout your content are essential for readability and viewer enjoyment.
•    Plain language: Now is not the time to sound like a dead English poet.  Use clear, commonly used, and accurate language.  It’s not poetry, it’s utilitarian and it should be written that way.

Up next, we’ll be tackling Google’s design and content guideline on keywords.  Read on!

Writing Web Words Inc:
Based in Toronto, Ontario, we are a full service Web Writing and Content Development Company that helps small and mid-sized companies maximize their online potential via Search Engine Optimization (SEO), SEO Copywriting, Social Media Marketing and other leading edge interactive marketing services.

Google ‘Design & Content Guidelines’: Part 2

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

In the second part of our series on Google’s ‘Design & Content Guidelines,’ we will be explaining the importance of a sitemap.

Google Design and Content Guideline #2: “Offer a sitemap to your users with links that point to the important parts of your site. If the sitemap is larger than 100 or so links, you may want to break the sitemap into separate pages.”

A sitemap lists the pages of a website in a hierarchical fashion and is an orderly way of presenting the entire website content to your users and search engine bots.

There are two kinds of site maps; a html sitemap and XML sitemap.  A html sitemap is one that visitors might use to find information on your website.  The second type of sitemap is created in XML and resides in the root directory of your website.  Its purpose is to help search engine bots find your web pages.

It’s useful to offer a sitemap with links to your most important web pages for both humans and bots.  Doing so will lead to improved site navigation and will greatly enhance the chance that all of your pages will be indexed.  Sitemaps also help websites with many pages, dynamic content, and poorly linked pages to be found by search engines.
 
Breaking down a html sitemap into 100 links or less increases its accessibility, making it easier for users to find content on your website.   XML sitemaps – on the other hand – can support thousands of links before they need to be split into 2 files:  Google Sitemaps allows up to 50, 000 URLs per XML file.

Happy Indexing!

Writing Web Words Inc:
Based in Toronto, Ontario, we are a full service Web Writing and Content Development Company that helps small and mid-sized companies maximize their online potential via Search Engine Optimization (SEO), SEO Copywriting, Social Media Marketing and other leading edge interactive marketing services

Google ‘Design & Content Guidelines’: Part 1

Saturday, November 14th, 2009

Google Webmaster Central ‘Design & Content Guidelines’: A Series

Under its ‘Design and content guidelines,’ Google’s Webmaster Central has outlined 10 guiding principles for optimizing a search engine’s ability to find, index, and rank your website.  In a 10-part series, we will be exploring each one of these guidelines and how your website can benefit by implementing them.

Google Design and Content Guideline #1: “Make a site with a clear hierarchy and text links. Every page should be reachable from at least one static text link.”

In non-tech speak this means: cleanly order your web pages and connect them with html or text-based links.

Web pages are indexed on search engines by the use of search engine “bots.”  Think of bots like Pacman.  They will index/eat any web page(s) that they come across.  The more pages that a search engine can find, the more likely they are to be indexed.  Thus, a clear and logical web page hierarchy will improve the ability of a search engine bot to find and index all of the pages on your site.

In your website’s hierarchy, the homepage is the root.  All important and frequently-searched for content on your website should link directly off of the homepage, because pages that are directly linked to a homepage are the most easily-found by Google.  All secondary and less-important content should link off that “first layer” of the hierarchy. 

Static links are links that are formed by html or normal text.  Websites made with Javascript, Flash, or other more complex forms of coding format links in a way that do not allow the bots to find them.  If the bots cannot find your link, they cannot follow it to a page, and they cannot index that page.  Furthermore, ensuring that every page is connected by at least one link ensures that it is easy for the bots (and people!) to jump around your website and find all of your pages.

Stay tuned for more ‘Google Design & Content’ Best Practices.

Writing Web Words Inc:
Based in Toronto, Ontario, we are a full service Web Writing and Content Development Company that helps small and mid-sized companies maximize their online potential via Search Engine Optimization (SEO), SEO Copywriting, Social Media Marketing and other leading edge interactive marketing services.

Who is The Web Expert?

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

Common to northern climes, The Web Expert (TWE) often makes his appearance towards the middle of a web project.  Like a Ninja, he appears out of nowhere.  Often unassuming, he may even be likeable; but be warned: he waits in the wings, waiting to strike.

Usually the son, nephew, or friend-of-a friend’s second cousin, The Web Expert may be called upon to ensure that the web project is going according to plan; albeit with little clue of what the actual plan is.  Upon learning of the project, he’ll offer up his services.  After all, he has a wealth of experience, having developed and authored numerous other family members’ websites.  In fact, he just completed a site about scrap-booking for his mother.  He’s accomplished and quite proficient with FrontPage.

He may not know what you’re paying these so called Professional Web Designers and Web Writers, but intuitively knows that you’re paying too high of a price for all that professional advice.  In fact, he can do the job for far less, or free!  It’ll take a while though, as he’s only available during the summer months: school starts in September. And what’s the rush, anyways?  It’s not like you’re paying for it.

Omnipotent about all things Web, the expert knows about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and how to get your website to the top of Google:  He informs you that it’s a simple matter of stuffing keywords on a web page, sitting back and watching the magic happen.  And if that doesn’t work, spam the search engines – they love that!

He asks you why you’re paying for web content when the Internet’s littered with it – and it’s free!  “It’s all about cutting and pasting,” he says.  It’s not really copyright infringement, it’s the Internet.  And besides, nobody reads online.

He knows that in order to keep customers on your website, you MUST entertain them using Animation, Music and Video; preferably all at the same time.  That’s why everybody loves the Circus.

As for professional hosting, why pay extra?  He goes on to inform you that you already have web space available courtesy of your ISP.  As well,  you can save on the purchase of a domain name by piggy-backing on your ISP’s domain.

So what if your Web address appears as www.myisp.com/mybusinessname – it’s free!

You ask him about developing your database, letting him know that you’ll need the ability to make monthly product and service description changes.  He informs you that he hasn’t taken that course yet…

For all you do Web Expert, This Bud’s for You.

Ray Litvak
Toronto Web Writer

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